Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Maggie Malarkey

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Maggie Malarkey

Article excerpt

IT'S that time of year again, when the most aggressive, pea-brained, malevolent creatures in the world take it upon themselves to attack every living creature that haplessly wanders into their sights. No, I'm not referring to the tribes of politicians returning en masse to Canberra, but the black and white terrorists, Magpies.

These feathered bombers haunt nearly every highway and byway around our fair city, and are completely without mercy when it comes to protecting their turf. I wouldn't mind so much, but as a cyclist (of sorts) it can be a bit daunting to run the gauntlet of several magpie attacks on my weekly pedal into town to visit the library. And Spring having come early this year, means that the Magpie season is going to be a lengthy one as we sail into an early summer.

'Pubtruck', my trusty pushbike, is too slow to outrun them, so I had to come up with some sort of diversionary tactic to prevent further attacks. After much experimenting, I eventually stumbled across a sure-fire deterrent, but some of my earlier trials were, shall we say, not very successful.

For example, I heard that painting a pair of eyes on your helmet will fend off attacks. Nope, it just makes them angrier.

Then a workmate suggested that covering my helmet with long cable ties would keep the pests at bay. So I bought a pack, strapped them all over my helmet, and put it on. I looked like the end result of an appalling experiment involving a jovial village idiot and a hedgehog. Undeterred by the jeers of my family and neighbours I sallied forth to a known magpie hangout to test my latest invention. Pedalling slowly along the bike way and shaking my head to achieve 'maximum cable tie wiggle', I quickly learned that while the maggie couldn't attack my head, my shoulders, arms and back were still vulnerable. I returned home, my ears still ringing from the cawing of the bird and the taunts of some smart alecky school kids. …

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